(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

WILLIAM TON  HmCBOLDT.                   251
Female society also tended to strengthen, this
quality in "William von Humboldt; by accidental
meetings, he became connected with the most dis-
tinguished women of the age, such as Mdlle. de Bries%
afterwards Madame de Rochow., and then de Fouque,
under which name she has published many novels ;
Hahel, celebrated for her letters., and of Henrietta
Herz, the still' surviving widow of Professor Marcus Herz,
who was as celebrated for her beauty as for her mental
attainments. With her, Humboldt entered into the most
intimate friendship and confidential correspondence.
But qualities diametrically opposed to this senti-
mentality., were at the same time developed in HTHDL-
boldt's character, namely, a calm and cold reason,
cutting satire and irony, quiet humour, a most culti-
vated dialectic power, a universal love of research, of
investigation, of argument, and of discussion, in shorty
everything which subsequently so characterized his
being, that the sentimental feature of his character
remained unsuspected by many. We shall even find
that he frequently, in social intercourse, purposely
concealed his feelings, and even adopted an entirely
opposite character.
But such momentary coldness was, therefore, by no
means intentional or deceptive. An incident in "his
university life givesus a remarkable example of this fine
feeling concealing itself behind humour or self-negation.
and united to an admirable strength of soul. He was
bathing one evening, with his friend Steiglitz, in the
Ijeine, near Gottingen, and was carried away by a
current; after resisting for some time in vain, lie
thought himself lost, and called out: " Steiglitz, I am
drowning, but it does not matter." His friend, how-
over, at once leaped into the water, and saved him.
Humboldt subsequently describes his sensations; they
were those of the tenderest and noblest firiendsMp fee
Steiglitz, and of affectionate remembrance of disfeant
beloved ones ; but nothing of this appeared m his
immediate expressions; he joked and laughed as he
walked home in the light of the moon, wifch. the friend